Oklahoma defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux doesn’t believe he has changed his recruiting philosophy since coming to Norman from Lawrence, Kan.
Maybe, maybe not, but he’s definitely starting to make an initial imprint in trying to build the defensive line for OU’s 2017 class.
Back in the spring, it looked like a huge uphill battle for Thibodeaux. Not just for Houston Bellaire Episcopal five-star defensive tackle Marvin Wilson but for a number of top prospects.
OU hasn’t been able to build on that cohesive unit at the position in a while when you have Jerry Montgomery there in 2014 and Diron Reynolds in Norman last year.
Now it’s Thibodeaux’s crack at trying to lure the big dogs to his alma mater.
“Still trying to identify the best of the best and get them to the University of Oklahoma,” Thibodeaux said. “I’m steadily getting better at it day after day after day. Hopefully I can get some stuff going here pretty soon. I feel like we’re on the right guys, identifying the right guys.”
The results are slowly trickling in. Thibodeaux landed his first commitment in late May with Tulsa (Okla.) Memorial’s Isaiah Thomas, a Scout 300 defensive end.
And though not a defensive lineman, Missouri City (Texas) Fort Bend Elkins linebacker Kenneth Murray credited Thibodeaux a lot for his reasoning to pick the Sooners as Thibodeaux was among the first to offer Murray when Thibodeaux was at Kansas.
Landing a goose egg at defensive tackle for the 2016 class means the emphasis is there even more for the 2017 class.
Whether it’s Wilson or Las Vegas Arbor View’s Greg Rogers or Katy (Texas) High's Corey Bethley or Plano (Texas) East’s Deiontae Watts, it’s going to be a challenge for Thibodeaux. One he fully accepts and looks forward to the rest of the way.
“Recruiting against the best of the best. You welcome that challenge,” Thibodeaux said. “You have to step your game up. It’s been awesome.”
OU’s winning tradition is always going to have the Sooners in the mix. The consistency and longevity of Bob Stoops will make sure OU is in play. The renovations to the stadium will make the Sooners an appealing choice.
But for all the bells and whistles, it still goes back to the same thing Thibodeaux appreciated when he went through the recruiting process himself before picking OU.
“To me, it’s all about relationships,” Thibodeaux said. “Identifying who is helping him make the decision. Being persistent in that approach. As long as you can build a relationship and be persistent, I don’t care if he’s No. 1 or dead last, as long as have that relationship, you know you have a chance.”